Venezuela's oil industry could be directly targeted by the U.S. immediately after the crisis-hit nation's upcoming presidential election, oil experts warned Wednesday, as global energy markets braced for a further spike in crude futures.
Venezuela's export troubles have intensified ahead of the country's snap presidential election on Sunday, as incumbent Nicolas Maduro prepares for a second term in office despite an unprecedented economic and social crisis.
The U.S., alongside several other countries in the Americas, has condemned Venezuela's forthcoming vote as a sham.
"Maduro will win as the election is rigged and it won't be fair. The more important question is how the U.S. will react after the official results," Tamas Varga, analyst at PVM Oil Associates, told CNBC in a phone interview Tuesday.
"If U.S. refineries are forbidden from buying Venezuelan crude then you'd have to imagine the country is in trouble," he added.
When asked whether oil traders should expect to see sanctions imposed against Venezuela after the Latin American country's vote, Vargas replied: "Knowing Donald Trump, it is more likely than simply just a prospect because he likes playing hardball, he isn't fainthearted and he is not afraid to punish countries."